I move amendment No. 1:
In page 8, between lines 30 and 31, to insert the following:
"Monitoring of premiums
7. Following the commencement of this Act, the Health Insurance Authority shall monitor and report on the increase in premiums of private health insurance due to this legislation, to the Minister for Health, before the next amendment of the Principal Act with regard to Risk Equalisation Rates.".
We discuss this Bill every year. Last year the Minister for Health, Deputy Harris, said we need to encourage our insurance companies not to use this as an excuse to hike insurance premiums. The encouragement needs to be strengthened. That is why I have tabled this amendment to attempt to monitor premiums that are being helped from the public purse in respect of risk equalisation rates. It is necessary for this Bill to be passed but we need to be prudent and look after the public purse too and make sure there are no unintended consequences of this encouragement not to put up premiums. We need to have oversight of this and keep the insurance companies to their word; they can increase premiums but not so high that they will increase their profit.
Community rating is important in our two-tier system which has come under scrutiny lately. I hope the recommendations in the Sláintecare report will be enacted in the coming years to create a system based on need only and not on ability to pay. I ask the other parties to support this amendment. It shows that we are taking this seriously and holding private insurance companies to account because 46% of people in this country have private insurance policies whether they want to or not.
It ensures that we are on their side and that we are being prudent about the money that we spend, which is for the purpose of risk equalisation and nothing else. Go raibh maith agat.